‘Shuttles in the Rocking Loom’

Book‘Shuttles in the Rocking Loom’

‘Shuttles in the Rocking Loom’

Mapping the Black Diaspora in African American and Caribbean Fiction

Migrations and Identities, 3


October 11th, 2013





‘Shuttles in the Rocking Loom’: Mapping the Black Diaspora in African American and Caribbean Fiction explores the symbolic geographies found within modern black fiction and identifies a significant set of relations between these geographies and communal affiliations, identity politics, and understandings of a diasporic past. Employing a pliant sense of the term ‘mapping’, it offers analysis of diverse sites, landscapes, journeys, and orientations that address diasporan historical experience and often expose oppressive spatial orders or revise colonial representations. A comparative approach encompasses Anglo- and Francophone novels emergent from North America, the Caribbean, and Europe and spanning the twentieth century. The study draws on postcolonial theories of the transnational, cross-cultural formations initiated by racial slavery, while shaping its own geographical focus. In particular, spatialised aspects within the work of Édouard Glissant and Paul Gilroy provide departure points for new investigation into the prominence of space and place in a powerful black diaspora imaginary. Not only are resistant counter geographies charted but attention to narrative poetics also reveals distinctive mappings of interrelation between the temporal and spatial in diasporic fiction. Chapters examine the meanings of the US North and South; Caribbean definitions of both the plantation and anti-plantation locations; engagements with the Atlantic Middle Passage and other oceanic trajectories; and plotting of stratifications, transformative interactions, and the search for belonging in the diasporic city. Converging geographical visions in African American and Caribbean fiction are found to articulate dislocation and traversal but also connection and emplacement.

Original approach focuses on the symbolic geographies mapped in African-American, Caribbean and black British fiction A wide comparative scope brings together Anglo- and Francophone novels by 25 writers from N. America, the Caribbean and Europe Draws on recent postcolonial theories such as those of Édouard Glissant and Paul Gilroy to highlights the significance of the ‘spatial’ in discourses of diaspora.

Terry’s study is effectively organized, clearly signposting each theme throughout....of interest to scholars of Caribbean literature.
Melanie A. Murray, Journal of Postcolonial Writing

What Terry shows throughout this book is the way that African diasporic resilience, surviving the trauma, ultimately reveals enmeshed histories that often aptly explicate the journeys made. The importance of remaking histories to many of these narratives is something to which she constantly returns.
Alan Rice, New West Indian Guide

'A significant contribution to both black diaspora and postcolonial studies ... the magnificent scope of each chapter offers readers detailed readings, contextualization and careful analysis.' Journal of American Studies


Author Information

Dr Jennifer Terry is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in English at Durham University, UK with particular interests in literature and culture of the black diaspora. Her research is situated at the intersections of American hemispheric, US and postcolonial studies. Previous publications have focused on the work of Toni Morrison and other African American writers. Her monograph 'Shuttles in the Rocking Loom': Mapping the Black Diaspora in African American and Caribbean Fiction was published by Liverpool University Press in 2013. Dr Terry is Secretary of the British Association for American Studies, organised the UK Higher Education Academy event ‘Teaching African American Literature and Culture’ in 2014, and is developing new work on visions of futurity in recent fiction and visual art by black diasporans.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Publisher acknowledgements
1 The Legacies of Slavery and the US North and South
David Bradley, Octavia Butler, W. E. B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison,
Pauline E. Hopkins, Toni Morrison, Ishmael Reed, Alice Walker
2 Landscapes of the Caribbean Plantation and Interior
Maryse Condé, Édouard Glissant, Wilson Harris, Jamaica
Kincaid, Earl Lovelace, Paule Marshall, Jacques Roumain
3 Sea Changes: Middle Passages and Voyages ‘Home’
Maryse Condé, Charles Johnson, George Lamming, Paule
Marshall, Toni Morrison, Caryl Phillips, Simone Schwarz-Bart,
John Edgar Wideman
4 City Space: Claims, Cosmopolitanisms and Dwelling
Dionne Brand, Patrick Chamoiseau, C. L. R. James, Nella
Larsen, Andrea Levy, Claude McKay, John Edgar Wideman